Several years ago, I became fascinated with this landscape plant that I bought on a whim, red-tipped cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco). I didn’t really know much about it other than that it was a Florida native shrub with pretty leaves that produced fruit I could eat. After a while, it produced so much fruit, that I began researching recipes for cocoplum jam. They were honestly few and far between, with little detail about how to actually make it.
I didn’t let that stop me, of course. I tried several recipes to make the perfect cocoplum jam, tweaking this or that to get the best texture and flavor. I believe I have perfected the recipe and the technique. The result is a rich dark burgundy jam that spreads thickly on toast. It’s also delicious on pancakes, Brie cheese, meat, or a charcuterie board. It adds a unique flavor, texture and color that will be sure to fascinate your dinner guests.
This is the pulp after it was separated from the seeds.
The pulp should form a thick liquid while it is cooking down.
Directions to Make Cocoplum Jam
- To start, you’ll need about 200 cocoplums. This may seem like a lot but it isn’t really. You can refrigerate or freeze them until you have enough if necessary. PRO TIP: If you don’t have enough cocoplums, add a few chopped apples. You’ll still get the cocoplum flavor.
- Wash the cocoplums and add them to a large pot. Cover with water and cook on medium with the lid off. I mash them periodically with a potato masher. After about an hour, the cocoplums will be soft. You’ll notice a good amount of the water has evaporated out too.
- Remove the cocoplums and set aside to cool. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup for later.
- This is the fun part. You’ll want to wash your hands well or even put on some gloves. Once the fruit has cooled, you need to remove the cooked pulp by hand. I just squeeze the pulp off and kind of fling it into a bowl – you’ll understand what I mean once you dig in. At first, I was diligent about getting it off my fingers but realized quickly that it was futile. You will have cocoplum pulp all over your hands. Set the seeds aside to roast.
- You should get about 2 cups of pulp from your 200 cocoplums. Return it to the pan, add 1.5 cups of liquid. If you have that much left from cooking, great. If you need more, add some water. Toss in 2 or 3 cinnamon sticks and cook on low for about 30 minutes. If you want to puree it with an immersion blender or food processor, do it at this point.
- Towards the end, add 1/4 cup of citrus juice. You can use lemon, sour orange, orange or lime. We used calamondin juice because that’s what we had ripe in the yard. Your house should start to smell like Christmas.
- Add 4 cups of sugar and stir it in well. We used organic cane sugar. At some point, fish the cinnamon sticks out. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes on low, then increase the heat to medium and stir frequently.
- If you are making syrup or are opposed to using gelatin, stop here, or use your own homemade pectin from apples for jam.
- To continue making jam, you’ll add one package Sure-gel (we like the liquid) and follow the directions on the package. Ours said to return to a rolling boil for one minute, remove it from the heat, and immediately jar it.
- If you are not going to water bath can it, you can use recycled jars and lids. It will be good in the refrigerator for a few months.
- For shelf stable jam or syrup, we followed water bath canning methods for fruit jams, using canning jars and new lids. To learn how to can using the water bath method, check out our presentation, Preserving Your Harvest.
- This recipe yielded about 5 cups of cocoplum jam.
- 200 cocoplums
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- Water to cover cocoplums
- Up to 1.5 cups reserved liquid or water
- 4 cups sugar
- Large pot
- Large measuring cup
- Jar funnel
- Hot sterilized jars if water bath canning
- Recycled jars if not canning
Your cocoplum jam should be thick and spreadable once it’s set.
To Roast the Seeds
The seeds are about the size of a pistachio and taste like a roasted almond. They are actually high in oil. So high that people used to string them together and light them like candles.
They can be eaten raw, but I think it’s fun to roast them after going through the trouble of removing the pulp. They are also way easier to open once they’ve been roasted.
Roast them at 375*F for about 30 minutes or until your desired level of done-ness. Check them every 5 minutes towards the end so they don’t burn. The resulting “nut” will be crunchy and rich.
You can add these to your jam, chop them to top desserts, or just eat them. Enjoy!!!
Would you like your own cocoplum plant? You can purchase them at our Garden Shop, located in St. Petersburg, Florida at The Hive St. Pete.